Key federal wildlife funding measure turns 75 this month

Pittman-Robertson Act crucial to maintaining Colorado game herds

Funding derived from the Pittman-Robertson Act helped Colorado establish a moose population. Photo by Bob Berwyn.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Without much fanfare, wildlife managers around the country are celebrating a milestone this month, as the Pittman-Robertson Act turns 75.

If you’ve never heard of the Pittman-Robertson Act, you’re probably not alone, but if you value wildlife, you’ve probably benefited from what might is probably the single most effective funding tool for wildlife management and restoration.

Along with a companion measure — The Dingell-Johnson Act — passed several years later, the 11 percent excise tax on firearms and ammunition has helped restore charismatic species like wild turkeys, bald eagles and peregrine falcons. In Colorado, the funds have also been used to help pay for management and operations at 300 state wildlife areas. Continue reading

Colorado: Highway lynx crossings documented

Study tracks north-south movement with more than 10 years of data

“Due to the poor precision of telemetry location estimates and the amount of time elapsed between locations, the straight line movement paths depicted in this analysis DO NOT represent exact or even approximate locations where lynx crossed I-70.” ~ Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Continue reading

Colorado: Bucket biologists endanger native fish

Southwestern Colorado trout fishery threatened by bass

Smallmouth bass illegally introduced to Colorado waters threaten native fish.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Bucket biologists are causing more headaches for Colorado wildlife managers by illegally stocking fish, including smallmouth bass at Miramonte Reservoir in San Miguel County.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is now planning to eradicate smallmouth bass by using an organic pesticide to kill all the fish in the reservoir and then rebuild this renowned trout fishery that attracts anglers from throughout the West. The operation is tentatively scheduled to occur in late summer or fall of 2013.

Along with threatening trout in the reservoir, the smallmouth bass are also a potential threat to three native fish species: Roundtail chub, the bluehead sucker and the flannelmouth sucker

In the meantime, Parks and Wildlife is implementing an emergency order that removes all bag and possession limits on smallmouth bass at Miramonte Reservoir.

“Killing all the fish in the reservoir lake is something we wish we didn’t have to do, but we know we must,” said Renzo DelPiccolo, area wildlife manager in Montrose. “People who illegally move fish into lakes, ponds and rivers are not only committing a criminal act, they are endangering native species, stealing a resource and recreational opportunity from thousands of anglers and negatively impacting the local community.” Continue reading

Colorado: Free fishing this weekend

Relatively low river flows make for good angling this year

Trent Park, Silverthorne, Colorado.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After the earliest snow-melt on record, many Colorado rivers and streams are already running clear and warming up. And with flows projected to drop off quickly going into summer, the upcoming free fishing weekend might be the perfect time to get into the groove of the season.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife traditionally sets aside the first full weekend in June to promote sport fishing. For this weekend only, anglers do not need a valid fishing license in order to wet a line. The state fishing report is online here.

“Fishing is one of Colorado’s most important outdoor traditions and a great way to hook kids on healthy outdoor recreation,” said Greg Gerlich, aquatic section manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Free fishing weekend also gives anglers who haven’t fished for a while a chance to reconnect with the simple pleasure of being on the water.” Continue reading

Colorado: ‘Trophy hunter’ sought for questioning

A mule deer in Colorado. PHOTO COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE.

Wildlife officers say mule deer carcass was left to rot in a dump near Granby with its head cut off

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — State wildlife officials are asking the public for help in tracking down a trophy hunter who left a headless mule deer carcass in a dump site along the Colorado River, a few miles west of Granby.

The carcass was discovered March 20, but based on evidence at the scene, wildlife officers believe the deer was harvested legally during last year’s hunting season, but never skinned and prepared for human consumption as required by law. The condition of the carcass suggests it was dumped only days before it was discovered.

Leaving the meat to waste is illegal in Colorado.

“This was a waste of Colorado’s wildlife resource, and we take it seriously,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager Scott Murdoch. “It appears that the person who did this hung the animal after it was killed months ago, but never got around to actually preparing it for consumption.” Continue reading

Colorado forum focuses on collaborative land stewardship

Partnering on public lands

Collaboration is on the agenda at a March 23 stewardship forum in Grand Junction.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Struggling with funding shortfalls and increasing and competing demands on natural resources, public land managers are increasingly relying on collaboration with citizens and user groups to get the needed work done.

The drive toward collaboration, rather than confrontation, will manifest in western Colorado this week, as stewardship groups, volunteer coordinators and citizens gather Friday  in Grand Junction for the Western Slope Outdoor Stewardship Forum.

One of the panelists is Dave Neely, top man for the U.S. Forest Service Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District, who firmly believes that engaging the public in stewardship of public lands is a big part of maintaining a sustainable economy in Eagle County.

“We need to connect people to the landscape, and we need healthy landscapes to support a sustainable economy … If you think about how people make a living here, so much is tied to the quality of our natural resources,” said Neely, who will be part of an early morning panel on community engagement at the Grand Junction forum. The full agenda is online here. Continue reading

Morning photo: Fishing!

Licenses for the 2012-2012 season on sale; state fishery experts warn against ‘bucket biology’

Fishing in glassy water at a "hidden" cove along the shore of Dillon Reservoir.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Early spring weather might not be the best thing for skiers looking to extend the season, but it could be good news for Colorado anglers looking to get early access to high country lakes and streams.

And with the 2o12-2012 license year just a few weeks away, it could be a good time to make sure you’re ready by buying or renewing your license. The latest fishing brochure, with regulations and other info, is also available where licenses are sold and online at http://www.flipseekpubs.com/publication/?i=99616.

Memorial Day fishing at the Dillon Marina.

Continue reading

Colorado to extend OHV monitoring program

Sharing the trails on Tenderfoot Mountain in Summit County, Colorado.

2011 pilot program resulted in 10,000 contacts with riders in problem areas

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado officials will continue an off-highway vehicle monitoring program that has helped increase compliance with off-road rules in Colorado.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission last week approved $300,000 in funding to extend the pilot program launched last year.

In 201, teams of law enforcement officers from Colorado State Parks, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management contacted 10,000 individual riders in problem areas identified by environmental and quiet recreation groups, according to state trails program manager Tom Morrissey. Continue reading

Elk, bighorn sheep studied in southern Colorado

bighorn sheep

Colorado biologists to study bighorn sheep herds in the San Juans. PHOTO COURTESY CDOW.

Biologists learning more about big game movement in the San Juans

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Colorado Parks and Wildlife Biologists are studying how elk and bighorn sheep in southern Colorado move in an effort to better manage some of the state’s charismatic wildlife.

“These studies will help us to learn important information about the elk and bighorn populations in this area of Colorado,” said Stephanie Steinhoff, terrestrial biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the San Luis Valley.

The studies are being conducted in the south San Juan Mountains on the west side of the San Luis Valley and east of Pagosa Springs.

In the elk study, 25 animals — eight bulls and 17 cows — were captured and fitted with VHF radio collars which allow biologists to track the animals’ movements from the air. The animals were captured in mid-February. At least part of the elk herd migrates into New Mexico, but wildlife biologists are not sure how far they go. Continue reading

Colorado: View the ‘sandhill dancers’ in Wray

Greater prairie chicken. PHOTO COURTESY COLORADO DIVISION OF WILDLIFE.

Once-endangered species makes a comeback on the plains of Colorado

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —The high county may still be snowed in, but out on the plains of Colorado, greater prairie chickens are beginning their spring mating rituals, and through a partnership between Colorado Parks and Wildlife and local ranchers, wildlife enthusiasts will have a chance to view the amazing sandhill dancers.

On weekends throughout March and April, guided tours will available through the Wray Chamber of Commerce, with reservations required (Call 970-332-3484 for more information).

“Many birders visit Wray to see the prairie chickens and mark them off their “Life Lists” for bird watching,” said Josh Melby, district wildlife manager for Wray, ” What they find here is one of the most fascinating and memorable mating rituals they’ll ever see in the wild.” Continue reading

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